Dave and I have actually road tripped along this section of the coast a few years ago and we still talk so highly of that trip! We swam with whale sharks and manta rays, snorkeled our hearts out (my first time snorkeling with sharks is memorable), experienced fantastic whale watching, met the dolphins of Monkey Mia, saw Hamlin pools, Red Bluff and all the towns in between.
So having seen this strip of the coast already we did find ourselves moving quicker than our usual pace, but we also found loads of new nooks to explore.
Cape Range National Park
A long limestone range that runs parallel to a pristine coastline creates an idealistic setting for a remote hide away camp spot. Nestled in between the range and the beach is the National Park and where ever you camp in the park you get a 360 degree scenic view. We set up camp on the coast at the North Mandu sanctuary zone, and at sunset you wouldn’t know whether to watch the sun go down over the water or look behind you at the orange glow reflecting on the range.
We spent a few days enjoying the incredible snorkeling right off the beach from where we camped, going on walks, seeing the Sturt’s Desert Pea flower in the wild for the first time and watching 2 Ospreys guard their huge nest on our beach.
Carnarvon & surrounds
In our pictures you will see a Thorny Devil lizard, some wildflowers on the side of the road, the amazing blowholes and rugged coastline where we saw whales breaching as well, and lastly our amazing campsite at Gladstone camp area.
From camping on the coast to setting up by a river the next night, we were enjoying the best of both worlds! Check out this beauty of a free camp spot on the river where we enjoyed a spot of fishing too.
We marveled at the wildflowers everywhere! Even driving along the road we were showcased with a huge array of varieties and colours on either side. The vibrant floral shades contrast with the dusty red earth and golden spinifex grass. The flat landscape meant that some fields of wildflowers went for as far as you could see. As we made our way down the coast, the types of wildflowers were ever changing – what a beautiful time of year to see this area!
Kalbarri National Park & Nature’s Window
Having been here before we only stayed the night, but Dave enjoyed a spot of fishing and I enjoyed the drive into and out of this town because we were seeing rolling green hills and fields of golden yellow flowers which may have been canola fields. For the first time in a long time, we were seeing bigger trees, more bush, and greenery – after weeks of red dirt and desert shrub landscape we were enjoying the change in scenery.
Okay, I have to mention that as we drove into town we felt really weird stopping at a set of lights! Passing through the small towns of north WA, we seriously couldn’t remember the last time we had to stop at lights. Seeing all the cars, people and the franchise take away joints was actually a weird feeling. It was also our warm up to arriving into Perth! We found a steller free camp spot on the beach just south of Geraldton, called Cliff Head North.
Driving through the quiet reserves along this area of the coast was just fantastic! We found numerous tucked away coves, beaches and camp spots – but on our last trip we found a memorable spot nestled behind sand dunes, at a cove of turquoise waters and white sands so we were keen to get back there for old times sake. It was at Sandy Cape near Jurien Bay.
This is a place well worth a look. Picture a desert scape with hundreds of natural limestone pinnacles spread out, some standing as high as five metres and they still have scientists debating exactly how they got to be the way they are.
In just a few days we had driven from flat desert with red dirt and low sparse shrubs where you could look out to nothingness as far as the eye could see; through patches of outstanding colourful wildflowers; then onto a coast of white sand dunes; next winding through green hills and farming country surrounding Kalbarri and to arrive at tall trees and thick bush again down at the Perth area. Seeing those bigger trees again really was an adjustment to the wide open spaces and shrubs! The ‘down south bush’ is SO different to the vast open spaces of the north.
We spent our first evening having dinner at Dave’s aunt and uncle’s place. After 4 ½ hours of non-stop talking, laughing, drinking and eating, we all had a really great night. And I was very happy to have had the chance to get to know them better, as I had only met them briefly twice before.
We spent time in Fremantle where I tried to eat my way around the farmers markets, we meandered through the small backstreets window shopping, walked along the Esplanade and visited the Little Creatures brewery for more good eating and fantastic beer. We beach hopped our way along the popular beaches, getting a feel for the laid-back local lifestyle, nice foreshores and white sandy coves. We checked out Kings Park overlooking the Swan River and the city skyline. We had dinner with good friends, and tried to learn how they make their own salami and jarred olives. We checked out the Swan Valley food and wine trail, sampling more great local produce and beer. Below you’ll see me holding up our cheesecake-in-a-jar take away dessert – yum! We were also lucky enough to visit a friend’s rural property, nestled in front of the hills in the beautiful Swan Valley where we were let in on a local secret bush walk along a bubbling creek, which we did and loved. All in all – a great little taste of Perth!
Onto the south coast of WA now – which we’re both really looking forward to as it’s completely new territory for us.